Gross motor skills and Fine motor skills infant development

October 1, 2016 by Mommy Nurse
gross motor skills and fine motor skills

Have you heard about gross motor skills and fine motor skills? These two are types of physical development your infant will undergo. Other areas of development in infant includes cognitive, language and social. There are distinct period of progress. During each of these stages, several changes in the improvement of their brain are taking place.


Babies grow at an amazingly rapid pace during their first year of life. Aside from physical and growth in height and weight, babies also go through greater achievement stages referred to as developmental milestones. One of those milestones your baby will acquire is motor development. It is a process that follows the pattern of child’s brain growth and development. This pattern results in the development of motor skills in a Cephalo-caudal (gains motor control over his muscles starting from the head and moving down the spine), Proximo-distal fashion (gains motor control over his muscles starting from areas close to the spine to areas further away).

Difference between gross motor skills and fine motor skills


There are two types of motor skills development that you can observe with your little ones.

Gross motor skills:

  • These skills refer to movements related to large muscles such as legs, arms, feet  or entire body that will enable your baby to hold his head up, sit, crawl and eventually walk, run, jump and skip.

Fine motor skills: 

  • These are skills refer to movements involving smaller muscle groups such as  those in the hand, wrist, and fingers that is used for holding your baby’s toys.

Mastering both gross and fine motor skills are essential for a child’s growth and independence. It will help your baby to explore many things around them. As you learn what milestones your baby is likely to achieve this year, be reminded that this is only a guideline. Each child is different and develops at his own pace. Perhaps, if your relative or neighbor’s tenth month old is already walking and your tenth month old baby is just crawling, don’t be alarmed. Unless it’s too late for his development (“red flags”).

Examine the milestones listed below to track your child’s development. Remember, if you have a concern, talk with your pediatrician or doctor and ask for an evaluation.

Age Gross Motor Skills Fine Motor Skills
0-3 months
  • Raises head when on tummy
  • Hands fisted
  • Brings hands and fingers to mouth
  • May take some body weight on legs when supported in standing
  • Kicks feet when on back
  • Eyes follow object to midline
  • Grasps as a reflex
  • Hands together
  • Pulls at blanket and clothes
  • Hold rattle for a few minutes
3-6 months
  • Raises chest with arm support
  • Rolls from back to side
  • Plays with feet and brings feet to mouth when on back
  • Hold head steady
  • Reach for toys
  • Sit with little support at the waist
  • Begins reaching and grasping with palm
  • Grasps feet
  • Able to hold their bottles
  • Pulls object to mouth
6-9 months
  • Sits without support
  • Bears some weight on the legs
  • Start standing stiff legged while holding onto furniture
  • Start to crawl
  • Rolls easily
  • Creeps on hands and knees
  • Pass objects from hand to hand
  • Uses one hand for grasping
  • Pincer grasp develops
  • Reaches persistently for toys out of reach
  • Releases objects at will
9-12 months
  • Pulls self to standing position
  • Can change from prone to sitting position
  • Cruises or walks holding on furniture
  • Stands alone
  • Can sit down from standing position without help
  • Neat pincer grasp
  • Bangs objects together
  • Delights at picking up and dropping toys
  • Tries to stack block
  • Explore and handle objects: wave, shake, twist and squeeze
  • Crawl up stairs

In due time you’ll witness these particular skills in your baby. But, before they manage to manifest the enumerated skills above, your baby needs you. Help him to achieve these milestones, by helping him and encouraging your little one, to develop both gross motor skills and fine motor skills.


Here are some pointers to remember  in helping your baby to boost his motor skills. First of all, he needs you to attend to all of his needs. Getting close to your baby will give him comfort and feeling of being secure. Your love and attention is what your baby really needs. Considering this statement, the sense of touch or tactile perception plays a big role. They need to feel what is in their hands and their surroundings, in order to interact with or manipulate objects. Encouraging him to hold toys to improve his fine motor skills such as blocks in various shapes and sizes, balls, stuffed animals or dolls and etc. Giving him a lot of objects to handle and explore, it will strengthen his hands and fingers and make them more sensible and active. Furthermore, sense of sight is also important. Babies like to look at faces or anything near them. You can guide your baby to develop their visual skills by choosing colorful toys, exposing your baby to different and enriching environment. They will respond with certainty. For example, shaking a rattle off to one side of baby’s face can encourage him to move his eyes or head and by demonstrating how to use his arms to clap, wave and shake toys he will absolutely imitate you.

Also, you need to give your baby lots of opportunities to lie on his tummy, as this helps strengthen the muscles in his neck, back and torso. Eventually, he will be able to push up onto his hands, progress from sitting to crawling then to walking and finally running around. Shifting babies positions frequently, from crib to floor, from sitting to standing position, from tummy to back and vice-versa , can stimulate different muscles and exhilarate more motions.

Moreover, babies safety is a top priority. You must base safety on the infants developmental stage. Consider the following essential tips.

  • Do not leave your baby unattended specially  on a surface where he can fall off, to avoid accident.
  • Do not leave infant with their young siblings or near pets
  • Be aware of poisonous materials (household cleaner, toiletries, cosmetics, medicine and the like)
  • Do not allow older baby crawl near the kitchen, there are dangerous tools and equipment
  • Do not drink or carrying anything hot while holding your baby to avoid burns
  • Check baby toys for choking hazard. Also, small objects that can be found at home (buttons, clips, coins and etc. )
  • Invest in baby’s indoor gates to avoid casualty

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